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Daily Reads: Why Sex Is Better on TV Than in Movies, The Oscar Moment Everyone Missed, and more

Daily Reads: Why Sex Is Better on TV Than in Movies, The Oscar Moment Everyone Missed, and more

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential
news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. How TV Brought Hollywood’s Sexy Back. The smoldering sex of “Body Heat,” “Last Tango in Paris” and “Basic Instinct” has left the big screen and gone to television, says The Daily Beast’s Jen Yamato.

In the past year alone, we’ve seen delicious gay sex on ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder,” unexpected ass-play on HBO’s “Girls,” and a headline-grabbing sixty-nine on FX’s “The Americans.”  Twisted, torrid nookie abounds on “Game of Thrones,” while Showtime snagged two Golden Globes for “The Affair,” about a steamy extramarital coupling. And in case you missed it, King Henry fatally humped a lady out of a window on The CW’s teen period drama “Reign.” Even that stroke of mad genius in the writer’s room managed to inform character and plot. Shame, then, we can’t get more than a few polite thrusts from Christian Grey. Read more.

See also:Sorry, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ but the steamiest sex is on TV, not in movies.”

2. The Incredible Oscar Moment Almost Everyone Missed. Everyone’s talking about Patricia Arquette’s speech and Neil Patrick Harris’ uncharacteristically flat hosting gig, but The Broad Side’s Aliza Worthington shines some light on a great moment few wrote about during Common and John Legend’s performance of “Glory”:

The chorus was made up of both People of Color and white people. The white people, however, weren’t singing. They simply marched in step, and side by side with the Black people on the stage. The only voices we heard were the voices of POC. White people showed UP. They walked. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder. They marched. And they let the people of color do the talking. They stood silently so Black voices could be heard. What a brilliant piece of staging that should really resonate, I thought.Read more.

3. Parks and Rec’s Wish-Fulfillment Finale. There was a lot of wish-fulfillment in the “Parks and Recreation” finale (too much, to my eyes), but Myles McNutt of Cultural Learnings said that it ultimately worked:

But what makes it work for me at the end of the day is that the final note we end on, ultimately, is that Leslie did all of this because her basic approach to life wasn’t about herself. Returning to “The Office” for a moment, Michael Scott was someone who loved his coworkers like family but was never going to be the person to bring them all together. When that show tried to make a claim at the end of Michael’s run that everyone loved Michael, it was pure bullshit: Michael had strong individual bonds with many of his employees, but he was never the one to unite them, evidenced by the fact that he spent his final days with them saying goodbye individually, balking on the goodbye party that never fit his approach. By comparison, Leslie Knope is someone who shared intense personal bonds with everyone she met, but was always understanding those bonds as part of a larger network of individuals she could harness at any moment, whether it’s to fix a swing or create a support structure for much larger goals. On those terms, “One Last Ride” feels perfect. Read more.

4. How Should a Homegrown Awards Show Be? The Canadian Screen Awards merged the Canadian equivalents of the Oscars and the Emmys (the Genies and the Geminis) and are now trying to find a their voice. Adam Nayman of the Walrus suggests taking a cue from Viggo Mortensen, who mentioned at last year’s show that Canada recognized David Cronenberg early in his career while the Oscars still haven’t nominated him.

It was an inversion of the usual dynamic whereby Canadians measure the validity of our artistic output by its acknowledgment abroad. Mortensen seemed to imply that the CSAs (and their earlier incarnation, the Genies) had regularly recognized the brilliance of Cronenberg’s cinema—something they held over their American peers. Until the 1990s, most of Cronenberg’s movies were too small (i.e., independently produced in Canada) to consider alongside the Hollywood products that are routinely nominated for Oscars. Mortensen took the very Canadian conceit of being a big fish in a shallow pond and turned it from something apologetic into a point of pride. The fact that it took an American movie star to etch this perspective is a fine little irony that hopefully didn’t obscure the larger point being made. Read more.

5. Your TV Small-Talk Is Ruining Dinner Parties. We may want to talk “Empire” and “True Detective” at dinner, but that doesn’t mean we should. Vulture’s Daniel Engber writes that TV small-talk kills dinner parties:

Let me stipulate that many of the shows we talk about are, in fact, amazing. So, too, is the virtuosic corps of TV critics who attest to our amazement. Their work enlightens and informs us, but that only makes the problem worse. Expert TV talk seems effortless, like anyone could do it. It tempts us into being bores. Here’s what happens at the table: A friend posits that a show is great; the rest of us agree. It’s the dinner-party version of a Facebook post, where guests take turns punching at the “like” button. This is not spelunking for a deeper truth, it’s following the path of least resistance, or retreating to a common ground. A linguist might call it phatic speech — blabbing for the sake of social bonding. I call it giving up. Read more.

6. Last Thoughts on Awards Season. The Oscars have been given out, and awards season is finally over (thank god), and Oscar-covering rookie Cara Buckley of THe New York Times offers some final thoughts:

Broadly speaking, the Bagger believes that way too much importance and attention is given to these awards (while being very aware that that very attention is why her job exists) and to what the coddled celebrities trotted up for them do or don’t say. We can’t help but pay attention to these “stars,” though; their outsize place in our culture tricks our brains into paying them a whole lot of mind. Read more.

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